Avengers: Age Of Ultron - Cinema Review

'two hours in the company of one of Marvel's productions have not flown by with such a heady level of entertainment since 2011's Captain America'

Though it is still, inevitably, a battle between good and evil with a thunderous elongated conclusion, the changes that Marvel have made to their formula in their latest, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, are enough to see the film through on the studio's self-set terms. No, this doesn't try the things that can make comics really interesting (metaphor, cultural comment and the like), but two hours in the company of one of their productions have not flown by with such a heady level of entertainment since 2011's Captain America.

The changes are subtle, but nevertheless meaningful. Where once Marvel films always had one eye on setting up the next offering, this feels like a fully contained entity. There are hints to the Avengers' future direction but really only one brief section (that featuring Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue) feels like it is here purely for setup, possibly for the forthcoming Black Panther film.

The rest of the additions and changes have meaningful impact. Franchise fronts Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are arguably given a back seat to allow the lesser-seen Avengers to take to the fore. Certainly the emotional core of this film pivots around the formally ignored Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the often marginalised Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the own-film-less Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Hawkyeye and Black Widow in particular, especially given the latter's role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are all of a sudden the meaningful bonding agents in this superhero soup. The further detail about Hawkeye and the quickly introduced will they/won't they relationship between the other two work extremely well. New characters the Maximoff twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) begin a little anonymously but eventually add a great deal, particularly to Hawkeye.

For Marvel critics, the old problems will still be here, and fairly clearly. The narrative deals with Banner and Stark's meddling with an AI (Ultron, terrifically voiced by James Spader), but never does director Joss Whedon really give us a look at the morals behind such decisions, excluding a bit of bravado pushing and shoving, when clearly the film could have had scope to. If you look very closely at the large sections set in Sokovia, there is perhaps room to read in comment on how much good well-intentioned peace-keeping forces can do in conflict, but it is never widened out and it would be very generous indeed to consider it anything other than a passing consideration.

For me, this time, it did not matter. Age Of Ultron is entertaining, quick and considered of its own story - it is good spectacle - rarely does Marvel try to do more than that, often it achieves less, this time the machine churns out something that easily ticks enough boxes to consider it worth your time.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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